MUST WATCH: Just Before Passage, Curbelo Makes Final Case for Tax Relief for Hurricane Survivors

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Washington, D.C., September 28, 2017 | comments

Just before House passage, Representative Carlos Curbelo (FL-26) made the final case for legislation that will provide tax relief for hurricane survivors and give tax relief parity to Americans in Puerto Rico and residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2017 passed the House today 264-155 and will be sent to the Senate for consideration.

“I know this legislation would improve their situation,” Curbelo said while opposing Democrat’s motion to recommit the legislation and block today’s passage. “Can we do more? Should we do more? Should we work together to do more in the future? Yes. We should and we will. But that is no excuse to vote against this legislation. That is no excuse to leverage the suffering of these people to try to achieve a political objective, or even to advance different legislation. So I respectfully ask all my colleagues, Republicans and Democrats – and I thank the 26 Democrats who stood with us on Monday, and I ask them to do it again today, and for more to join us to send a strong message of national unity for the people of Florida, Texas, Louisiana, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.”

In an emotional appeal last night, Curbelo urged his colleagues to support this legislation that would provide critical relief to his constituents and other hurricane survivors in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Curbelo opened last night’s debate by thanking the many local law enforcement, military, and government agencies for the invaluable assistance they provided their neighbors. In addition, Curbelo thanked non-profit and business groups who have made financial contributions and demonstrated countless acts of kindness that will forever be remembered by those in the Keys.  A video of those remarks is available here

Curbelo, an original co-sponsor of the legislation, lauded its introduction last week. The version of the bill that passed today includes an amendment from Curbelo that ensures even greater parity to our fellow American citizens in Puerto Rico and residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

A video of Curbelo's remarks from today is available here.

BACKGROUND

The Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2017, was introduced in the House on September 25.

The legislation takes the following targeted actions to help American families and communities impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria:

Deduction for Personal Casualty Losses:

  • With respect to uncompensated losses arising in the disaster area, eliminates the current law requirements that personal casualty losses must exceed 10 percent of Adjusted Gross Income to qualify for deduction.
  • Eliminates the current law requirement that taxpayers must itemize deductions to access this tax relief.

Penalty-Free Access to Retirement Funds:

  • Provides an exception to the 10 percent early retirement plan withdrawal penalty for qualified hurricane relief distributions.
  • Allows for the re-contribution of retirement plan withdrawals for home purchases cancelled due to eligible disasters.
  • Provides flexibility for loans from retirement plans for qualified hurricane relief.

Encouraging Charitable Giving:

  • Temporarily suspends limitations on the deduction for charitable contributions associated with qualified hurricane relief made before December 31, 2017.

Disaster-Related Employment Relief:

  •  Provides a tax credit for 40 percent of wages (up to $6,000 per employee) paid by a disaster-affected employer to an employee from a core disaster area.

Special Rule for Determining 2017 Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit:

  • For 2017, allows taxpayers to refer to earned income from the immediately preceding year for purposes of determining the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.

The legislation also includes temporary extensions of health programs within Ways and Means jurisdiction. This includes extending the Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IVIG) demonstration policy for three years to ensure this program can continue to operate and provide care to patients with severe immunodeficiency diseases. The IVIG demonstration would otherwise stop providing services to patients after September 30, 2017.

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